Every day may not be good...but there is something good in every day.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kitchen Top 10!

Is there anything better than a cozy kitchen with something delicious and fragrant baking or cooking on the stove?  What could be better than sitting in a big chair with a cup of coffee and a pile of colorful cookbooks to browse? How pretty it is to dress up a table with colorful dishes and mix match china.

All wonderful.  My personal style of cooking is heavily influenced by the Midwestern mantra of meat and potatoes. I was raised using the "meat and three (sides)" rule when planning a basic meal and you can be sure one of the "three's" is a starch like potatoes or rice etc. I enjoy Southwestern and Cajun elements.  So I employee them whenever I can.  It bothers me when my meal is all the same color or has to many "heavy" foods - veggies are a must for me!

In the spirit of good food, good cooking and my freshly painted kitchen here is my list of  top 10 things you will always find in my kitchen (beyond the basics of flour, sugar etc.).

1) Garlic. I've recently converted to using fresh garlic in lieu of powder or a jar of minced.  It goes in everything - except desserts of course. 

2) Onions. Yellow are my preferred choice.  White is ok and Red - special occasion only.  Onions are in most of my dishes and I am not ashamed.

3) Pepper.  I cannot be the only one who shakes it extra heavy on potatoes, gravy or mac 'n cheese?

 4) Lowrey's Seasoning Salt.  I come from a long line of Lowrey users.  Its part of a trinity of basic seasoning...salt, pepper and seasoning salt.  If something is missing in a dish one will be sure to ask, "did you add the Lowreys? Maybe it needs more?"

5) Real Butter.  Not margarine. Nuff Said. Excuse my Paula Deen moment.
6) Mayo.  Not Miracle Whip.  Mayo is the only thing I use for dressings to sandwich fixing.  Add a little chipotle and green chilies you get a delish sandwich dressing; yum!

7) Cayenne Pepper.  My husband is not a spicy food person.  His eating habits are pretty tame.  I prefer a little a bit more adventure.  So being the loving wife I am...I sprinkle just a bit in almost anything I can get away with.  Especially on roast or chicken. I see it as building up his tolerance and providing me with a bit of zing. 

8) Honey Mustard. One of my favorite condiments.  I recently discovered BBQ Honey Mustard and use it on as many things as possible. Its sweet and zippy.

9) Olive Oil.  I feel healthy using it!

10) Chicken Bouillon Cubes.  These salty little devils are great in sometimes bland dishes.  I use them to help season mashed potatoes, rice and grits. 

Speaking of grits...here are some other honorable mentions...maybe not always on hand but used frequently.

Grits - yellow, white does it matter?  Cheesy grits are good stand in for potatoes in my book.
Thyme - I like to use this in sautéed vegetables and in chicken.
Poppyseed dressing
Louisanna Hot Sauce
My mom's bread and butter jalapenos - the last batch she made was not for the faint of heart and have only been able to use them in my own personal bowl of chili, and tacos.  Normally a couple will find their way into roast and other slow cooking recipes.
Mom's homemade ketchup.  Used in chili, meatloaf and beyond.

What are your "secret" ingredients or kitchen must haves?

Late...Christmas in the Country

Sorry I've been meaning to post this!  Life as usual has been non-stop and crazy!

I got a lovely package from Indiana!  A big thank you to Crystal from Chasing Saturdays!

There was also a bag of Dove chocolates - they didn't last long very long.
Well not long enough to make the photograph anyway. :)
The wall sign is very pretty and will look nice in the home.
The chocolate coffee is wonderful - I have never tried flavored coffee before. I'm hooked!
I cannot wait to use the cookie cutters!!!
Thank you again and Thanks to the ladies for hosting this event!!!
My little package was sent to Susie at Chores and Chandeliers!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Winter Favorites...

As my part of the country dipped into the 20's, receiving freezing rain one night and snow flurries the next - winter has officially arrived in my book. 

While I am not looking forward to this blast of cold air I do have winter time favorites...
Here are a few things that make winter a bit more bearable...
Side note (speaking of bears....are they not the coolest animal ever? Can you imagine stuffing your face all summer long just to sleep it off in the depths of winter and wake up skinny?  Let us pause at how awesome that is!) But I digress....

These are a few things I like that make winter a little less of a pain...

I can again wear long cardigans.  Is there anything more comfy than a big loose cardigan and a tank top?

I can drink coffee at all hours of the day without being stared at by my non-coffee drinking husband like I'm a psycho. It's cold - I need something to take the chill out.

Socks - thick wooly socks are one of my absolute favorite things! Ranks right up there with winter scarfs. 

Curling up with my woolie Aussie Dogs.  Since we do not have doors in the apartment - the entry way to the bedroom is a lace curtain. (very hippie chic) However, with that as the only barrier my two Aussies cannot be kept out.  We tried kicking them outside but they whine,bark and keep the whole neighborhood awake.  Because of this they sleep indoors. So lately we have woke up to find them curled up on our bed...on our feet or right next to us.  It's very cozy. I am not ashamed...yes my dogs have started sleeping on the bed.  I now understand why Eskimos allowed their dogs inside.  It's like a furry loveable heat source.

Rich once a year foods.  I would have to write a whole different blog post if I discussed the descendant delights made this time of year.  From my moms homemade bread pudding to pumpkin everything.  All of it rich and scrumptious.   Beside that - cooking more in the house adds warmth and that's a good thing.

And my latest and greatest discovery...cranberry wine...Oh My Gosh!  It sounds crazy but...wow. You have to try it!  I do not feel guilty drinking it because I can relax and gain some healthy antioxidants from the cranberries right?  Too good to be true??  Nope.

That's the long and short of it for now.  So while that wintery wind blows I will be armed with a cup of coffee and a smile! How do you battle the winter blues?


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Some Updating

I will not miss 2014.  I won't miss it one bit.
This year has been marked only by sadness and loss.

We look forward to 2015 with open hearts and bright eyes.

We have celebrated 3 years of marriage.  In those 3 years we have moved 3 times and we eagerly prepare for the 4th move - which will be the last one for the immediate future. 

With careful confidence we begin packing - we have found a small home on a very small acreage with great potential. 

In this new environment I hope to pick up the pencil and paper and blog on a regular basis again. 
So here is to new things, new directions and new beginnings.



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

10 Lessons Learned from Calving

The final countdown is upon us – 40 heifers and the rest of April stand between us and the sweet freedom of a night of restful sleep.

Here are some life lessons I have learned from this first season of calving as a couple.

1) The ones you work the hardest to save are the ones you lose. Truth. Anyone who has worked with livestock will attest to that.

2) Being surrounded by life and baby animals – don’t be surprised if the subject of little ones comes up. If it does – do not be offended if your spouse relates everything back to cattle terminology and crack jokes about first time heifers and mothering up.  

3) Pick your battles. Calving is stressful. The nights are long and the spouses get grumpy. They are not mad at you – just frustrated.

4) The laundry will pile up and your house will smell like a barn. In times like these I find solace in scented candles and scrubbing bubbles  

5) You will get a call from the barn from your spouse in a huff demanding you to come out RIGHT NOW to help him. I learned the hard way not to wear gym shorts in January. Lesson – dress as if you may have to go outside in a pinch no matter the weather. 

6) Coveralls don’t make bad Christmas gifts and it’s hard to beat a solid pair of boots.

7) Alone time can prevent many a fight.

8) Mud and mean cows will always be your enemy.

 9) Working together and praying together will make your relationship stronger.

 10) Don’t forget to make time for each other. Have a special supper, rent a movie, and make breakfast together.

Happy Trails and Happy Calving!



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Feeding Cattle - Photo Essay

This weekend we were in charge of feeding 350 head of cows.  We are feeding the cattle round bales of hay. We use a tractor with a bale unroller attachment.  Rolling bales saves hay.  By unrolling the bales we do not have to set out as much feed. Which is a good because feed is expensive!  If we didn't roll bales out we would have to fill several round bale feeders; which would take up time and hay. We have been feeding 4-6 bales a day.   So enjoy this photo essay of us feeding the cattle this weekend.

It was crazy how they swarmed the tractor.

Unrolling the first bale is the hardest.  Because the cattle are hungry and they try to eat the bales the tractors brings in. 

Before we are able to start unwrapping the bales we must cut off the net wrap.
 Below is Wade removing the net wrap around the bale. He has to scare the cattle away from the bale in order to accomplish this.  

Here is the cattle following the hay as we unroll it down the pasture.  I think some of the cows just enjoy chasing the bale and tractor...

350 head is a lot of mouths to feed...

This is bale two - a little more organized. 


We LOVE Hay! 

We want more hay! :) 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Farming and Ranching is Love

Have you heard about these books promoting vegan lifestyle to children?  The latest book is called Vegan is Love.  I first read about them in Drovers magazine, and then in an article written by Amanda Radke on the Beef magazine website.  I was trolling through the comment section (Click here for the full article) when I read this comment: “ It may be graphic and I would probably hesitate to show otto(?) (I assume they mean our)children, but is the depiction in these books untrue? At some point children should learn about slaughter. By James Saunders  on May 3, 2012

This comment struck me like lightening - stopped me in my tracks.  I had to ask myself - when did I learn about slaughter?  
I had to dig down deep in my recollections for my first experience to animal slaughter.  I think I was in kindergarten. We were at my grandma's house.  It was a chicken slaughter day. It was my chore to push my baby sister around in her stroller while the adults worked.  They killed, pluck, and gutted 50 + birds that day.  Nowhere in that memory could I recall my mom or dad sitting down and explaining to me what was going to happen or what I would see.   Did I ask questions about the process, yes! But they gave me answers I could understand. It didn't make me angry or sad that they were butchering chickens. I knew they were not pets - they were not like my dog Buddy, or the neighbor’s cat. I knew I liked chicken nuggets and they came from chickens.  It made sense, in my little kid brain.  It wasn’t cluttered with ideas about animal welfare, or the ethics of why we eat meat.  Because I was a kid!  Those are adult concepts!  Should children be taught about slaughter – YES by all means!  But are these books the answer - I'm not so sure.   I have yet to find and read one myself. So I can not offer a fair opinion on their content.  I can only offer my thoughts on teaching children about slaughter. 
Since that bygone day at my grandma’s house, I have been a part of several more butchering days.  Raising several butcher steers, and hogs. I went as far as taking a meat science class in college and learned the mechanics of the industry. In that class we butchered lambs, beef, and pork.  I made a point to work at every station, and get my hands dirty.  I will be blunt – it is not a pleasant job.  It’s not my favorite thing to do. But I learned that these animals have a purpose. They were raised to feed people. I cannot stress that point enough.
As farm kids raised with livestock we knew that these animals were not pets. Livestock are there to feed our families and others around the world. While we loved these animals, cared for and even named a few of them we knew what would happen in the end.  (I know I risk sounding hokey, or corny with this next statement.) Being raised on the farm we learned that cattle, hogs, sheep chicken, goats etc. have a noble purpose.  They die so that we may eat and nourish our bodies.   This is a very important thing to learn as a child, which is the concept we need to teach our children today.    Farming and Ranching is love!  I want to see that book on the shelf!